Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 47 seconds

technologyAs a VP of Development, you have some very real pain points. Undoubtedly you’re working with a lean staff and you yourself are constantly going in a million different directions. Your challenges are real and while no one is denying them, it often feels like your director isn’t completely supportive when it comes to considering new tools to help you succeed. In fact, not even half of development directors say they have a strong relationship with their ED.

If this sounds like you, here are a few ways to help turn the budget tides in your favor:

First understand the good news and bad news
The good news: you know there are powerful digital solutions that can help you do more good. And donors are ready for it. 80% of internet users own a smartphone. In addition, tablets, smart TVs and even gaming systems are now being used to get people online. We live in a world of connected individuals and modern donors want to use digital platforms to give, and they want it to be easy – which it can be.

Then there’s the bad news: For many nonprofits, the board and the director have likely been working in the sector for a couple of decades or more, and therefore don’t truly understand how powerful this new digital-centric mindset is. Many nonprofits are dealing with internal friction related to fundraising. In most organizations, the ED’s knowledge of your day-to-day fundraising struggles is limited. They’ve got their eye on the bottom line and they may not agree with you as to why it’s more difficult to engage younger donors in today’s on-demand digital environment. Those in the VP of Development role know they could be raising more money if they had leadership that better understood how digital resources could make an impact.

Challenge the status quo
So what can you do? How do you convince your ED that the status quo just isn’t working? Often those in that role once served a development role, so they know what worked for them and assume that’s what needs to be done today. Not so. The easiest way to get them to see the light is to show the hard numbers and prove to them that the way things were always done may not be the most effective way to do it for today’s modern donor.

They may see is as just a lack of manpower and suggest adding staff to help ease the burdens on those who are overworked and in danger of burning out. However, bringing on just one additional development team member means your organization will have to spend an average of $47,000 in salary per year; this is money that is essentially wasted if only the same old-school tactics stay in place. This is your opportunity to introduce your decision makers to the new comprehensive digital solutions available. You have options can be implemented and launched in less time than training new employees, with expert execution and, in many cases, at far less cost than bringing in a single hew hire.

And that’s just touching on the reduced overhead. The benefits to your organization are much more far-reaching than that. A well rounded digital solution that helps your organization reach more donors, more effectively, while also making staff’s jobs easier… it’s a recipe for happier employees who are less stressed, which means less turnover and better efficiency all around. Not only will you reach new donors, your current donors will be more likely to give (and give more) if you’re making giving a better experience. Everybody wins.

Help them (really) understand today’s digital environment
Today’s connected donors, including the highly-courted millennials, have options when it comes to the causes they support. This new generation of donors is more likely to look for convenient, impulse-driven ways to donate. It’s a click, tap, swipe lifestyle. If you want to capture this influential audience (and you certainly do), making a donation needs to be as easy as it is to hail an Uber, buy a song on iTunes, or order paper towels from Amazon.

When you’re ready to talk to your ED, arm yourself with a case about how your organization compares to those doing digital right. Examine your current situation and your short and long term goals. Say you’re looking to raise $1M by the end of the year. Break down what can be raised through traditional means (major donors, events, direct outreach, etc.), then highlight how a digital-centered strategy could open up the biggest new growth area yet – show them how valuable this untapped resource is.

At the end of the day, your ED has to understand that now is the time to embrace the digital revolution, or get left in the dust. No longer should turnover be the expectation and fundraising struggles the norm. With the digital resources and solutions available today, increasing fundraising while decreasing overhead and increasing donor and employee satisfaction is possible. Flash forward to the future and your executive director and board are going to be thanking you for bringing this “battle” to the forefront.

About the Author:

Raymond (Ray) J. Gary, Jr. is the CEO of iDonate, the fastest growing digital fundraising solution for nonprofits, helps organizations meet the needs of today's connected donor through technology and a great giving experience. Launched in 2010, the Dallas-based company helps nonprofits raise more money and gifts to support the organizations that are trying to make a difference. The company’s mission is to transform charitable giving by changing the way the world thinks - and more importantly, acts - around giving. For more information, please visit

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